1842: Mary Batchelder to Frederick L. Batchelder

How Mary Batchelder might have looked

This letter was written by Mary Batchelder (1805-1891) to her brother, Rev. Frederick L. Batchelder (1815-1910). They were the children of Odlin Prescott Batchelder (1775-1860) and Huldah L. Searle (1777-1846). Frederick graduated (1839) from Brown University and from the Newton Theological Seminary in 1842. He eventually settled in Stafford, Connecticut where he completed a forty years pastorate of the Baptist church there in 1898. Frederick married Eliza Hall Willey in 1862.

Mary mentions their brother Otis Robinson Batchelder (1817-1901), their brother George Odlin Batchelder (1810-1888), and their brother Benjamin Franklin Batchelder (1801-1879). It was Otis that was a missionary in India. In preparation to become a missionary, Otis studied at Holliston and Wilbraham, MA and Kent’s Hill, ME academies, 1835-1839. He studied medicine at Dartmouth and Cambridge Medical colleges. Otis was licensed to preach by the Boston Quarterly Meeting, Lowell, MA, April 1839 and was ordained an evangelist in Lowell, May 7, 1840. He sailed for India, May 16,1840 where he was a missionary at Balasore, Orissa, India, October 1840-52; Midnapore, Bengal, 1865-83. Otis returned to the United States, September 1883 and was without charge in New Hampton, 1883-6. Again he sailed from Boston for India, January 23, 1886. He published ‘’A Medical Guide in Oriya and Bengalee.”

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. Frederick L. Batchelder, Woodbury, New Jersey

Holliston [Massachusetts]
September 25, 1842

Dear Brother,

Your truly welcome letter came to hand last evening. It was rather unexpected as I had begun to look for you home. We have just received letters from Otis and of the half dozen that came to Holliston, one was for you. We did not open it until after the receipt of yours and have concluded not to send it to you now, nor at all, unless you request it. I will repeat the most important parts of it and all that you would wish to know in order to answer it.

First, your letter of November was received in good season. The box that G. sent arrived the second week in March. The watches were doing well and were likely to prove of service. He feared you had robbed yourself by sending yours. The books were very acceptable and were read with interest. They read one weekly and 2 monthly periodicals published in India. Mrs. Philips has added a daughter to the mission circle. (These letters were dated the latter part of April.)

The weather had been so hot for 3 weeks that the furniture had a hot feel and they had begin to close their doors and windows to keep the hot air out. The weather so far was much hotter than the season before. They were able to converse freely in Oriya and he hoped to be able to preach without great difficulty. The alphabet alone was troublesome. [They] were enjoying perfect health and were getting along well in their work.

In conclusion, he says, “And now dear brother, what say? Shall we ever be privileged with a meeting on the plains of India? Your letters and Mary’s have excited some hope and we wait with anxiety for the decision (and what did I say? Why just this — How can we spare Frederick to go to the Santals, and beside, is there not a work for him to do in the broad West?) You might find congregations in Balasore daily in 4 different languages, Oriya, Hindee, Hindustani, Bengalu, and the Santals within 10 miles!!

You feel like “a stranger in a strange land.” If you feel thus, when no farther off than New Jersey, how can you think of going to Greece, or any other foreign land? Or is it when contrasting your present situate with that of Newton that you feel thus alone?

Your plants are doing as well as can be expected in this rude clime. I shall not forget your Hydrangia when November comes. Benjamin has paid your tailor’s bill. I fear you will need your shirts if you stay away much longer unless the good ladies give you some. Mother says you must not run about and get sick through carelessness, for you would have none but strangers to take care of you — and I would repeat it. Also, look out for danger in the shape of steam, fire, water, and everything else where there can be any danger.

G. is at home and tells me to say that he is going to manufacturing shoes for the present, though I guess, and not without reason, that he thinks of teaching school within 30 miles, next winter. He can have two or three, but may alter his mind.

Monday 26. I saw Eveline last evening. She sends her love. George says there is a letter for you in the Post Office. He is going to take it out and keep it till you write him what to do with it. It was mailed at Providence. He says it came two or three weeks ago. So you have turned pedagogue for a little while. Well, I hope you will succeed until you find a place to preach to suit you. G. says when you write, you must tell us about your school. If you should happen to get among slavery, be careful.

If you happen to get a little money, take care and do not let the thieves get it for they will rob a minister as quick as any other person. The Methodists have been to camp meeting and got waked up and talk of having a revival. The Lord grant it. To this end, I hope you will remember us in your prayers. J. Bussell is going to move to Concord, New Hampshire. The day is fixed a week from tomorrow. I intend to resume my studies in a few days if nothing take place to prevent, and if you stay out ‘thereabouts,’ perhaps I shall come out and stop within a half mile’s ride, i.e. forty or fifty miles.

We are all in good health as usual. Lucretia appears reconciled altogether to Catherine’s death. I could scribble on and find something more to tell you but the mail will soon be along. You see I have written hastily. Therefore, excuse all mistakes. I close by requesting an interest in your prayers.

Write again soon. Yours in love, — Mary


2 responses to “1842: Mary Batchelder to Frederick L. Batchelder

  • Tom

    I’ve come to possess a grave marker for Mary Batchelder deceased 5/28/1835. She was the wife of Capt. Benjamin Batchelder.

    The stone was found in a roadside drainage ditch. I’m trying to return it to its rightful place. Could you let me know of any places I might try looking?

    Thanks, Tom

    • Griff


      A search on Ancestry.com yields the following: Mary Batchelder (1798-1835) died on 29 May 1835 (according to county records) in Northwood, Rockingham County, New Hampshire at age 37. She was the wife of Samuel Crockett. Her mother’s name was Deborah Doe. My hunch is that the stone was taken from the East Northwood Cemetery which is full of Batchelder’s and Crockett’s. You might check with the sexton there. — Griff

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